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What We Learned From Cincinnati’s 65-50 Win over Mississippi State

Other than the fact that UC’s two-game losing streak is over.

NCAA Basketball: Mississippi State at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday night was a good one for the Cincinnati Bearcats. They snapped a two-game losing streak with a pretty one-sided 65-50 victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The win signified one thing for sure: the sky was not actually falling just because UC had dropped a couple of games. But what else can we take away from the victory? Well I’m glad you asked.

Jacob Evans is just fine

In the preview for yesterday’s game, we examined Evans’ recent struggles, if you can call them that. A slow start against Xavier and inconsistent shooting against Florida were a downer during the last two weeks, but he cleaned things up in time for MSU. Evans scored a season-high 24 points, accounting for 36.9 percent of the Bearcats’ scoring output. He did so by using all the tools in his arsenal, knocking down 4-of-7 three-pointers, 7-of-13 shots overall and all six of his free throws.

Not only did Evans light it up on offense, he also carried the largest workload of anyone on the roster, playing 35 minutes, while doing plenty of work on defense, blocking three shots and chiming in with eight rebounds. Evans is the most complete player on the roster and when he plays like he did last night, there’s no stopping him.

Kyle Washington can still be assertive

A quiet few games from Washington created an understandable level of concern in Clifton. But Washington really called for the ball and worked hard to get his shots against MSU. He had more field goal tries (15) than anyone on the roster and finished with 16 points. Surprisingly, despite all those shots, he did not get to the foul line once, and he also only had five rebounds, but it was still a welcome step back in the right direction following two less than impressive showings.

Jarron Cumberland is still trying to recover his shot

If you or anyone you know has any information on the whereabouts of Cumberland’s shooting touch, please contact UC. The sophomore guard is shooting just 38.9 percent overall this season and he had his worst performance against the Bulldogs. Although he still contributed five rebounds and three assists, he made just 1-of-8 shots from the field. He is shooting just 30 percent over his last six games, including a 28 percent two-point success rate. I’m not sure what the solution to this problem is — other than Cumberland getting back in rhythm — but it needs to happen soon.

UC Just Doesn’t Lose at Home

Although BB&T Arena is not technically their home, the Bearcats were the hosts last night and the win was their 31st-straight in which they’ve played that role. That winning streak is the longest in the nation. They are 5-0 at home this season following a perfect 18-0 mark a year ago. Temple was the last team to beat UC as a visitor, doing so with a 77-70 victory on Dec. 29, 2015.

Nobody Defends Like the Bearcats

MSU was 8-0 entering play last night, thanks primarily to their defensive work this season. How cute. While the Bearcats certainly had some struggles on offense, shooting just 40.7 percent from the field, it was nothing compared to what MSU went through. The Bulldogs only made 30.2 percent of their field goal tries, including a 6-of-21 (.286) showing from beyond the arc. That even includes the efforts of Aric Holman, who sank 7-of-12 shots and 3-for-3 from deep. Evans and Gary Clark helped protect the rim, blocking eight shots combined while the team forced 18 total turnovers, which were traded in for 22 points. UC is now ranked No. 4 in the country in adjusted defense and ninth in blocks (64).